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Development Levies and Floods

Eddie Hobbs is fierce critic of waste, overcharging and incompetence.  He has a typical Hobbsian remedy to the unsustainable zoning and development on potential floodplains which led to so much distress this last week.  But he blames the attraction to planners of the development levies rather than the attraction to the landowners of the vastly greater increase in land values from zoning and planning permission which led them to lobby their elected representatives…

“Much of the damage may be traced back to pure incompetence in zoning lands unfit for habitation, dazzled by the huge development levies that would be generated for the local council and spurred on by competition against neighbouring authorities for plum multi-million Euro construction schemes. The awful irony is that you paid for the council’s work not just by paying your taxes but also by indirectly paying the levy which was padded into the sales price during the rising property market.”

This seems a bit harsh.  Planners it must be noted, more often than not advised their elected representatives and City and County managers against such short sighted and risky decisions but were over-ruled.  He is right though, suing the local authorities,  representatives and employee alike, jointly and severally, would concentrate minds.  This is not too different from what our own Environmental Pillar has called for in its response to the crisis.  As Eddis says..

It’s been heart breaking to watch footage of fellow citizens in distress from, what in many instances, may yet prove to be an entirely avoidable network of catastrophe . As the focus moves from the emergency of dealing with widespread flooding of newly constructed housing estates, the stark question of negligence and legal redress arises. So what should homeowners do, especially those not fully covered by insurance due to flooding exclusions or by simple lack of affordability due to financial stress?”

His solution ?

The answer for many is to sue local authorities for negligence. Find an independent engineer who can show that local councils granted planning permission knowing that certain zoned lands were prone to a high risk of flooding and you could yet get compensation. God knows you deserve it. New housing estates built on flood plains over the past six years probably stand best chance of getting redress for hundreds of homeowners, quite literally cleaned out by the floods. That’s because the legal action would not be statute barred but even in instances where permissions were granted before 2003, claimants may be able to sue local councils if legal advisers can find a way through that barrier.  (link to article)

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